Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What's Goin' On - Long Post


My Summer Class

The end of June, through July 13 was a whirlwind. I finished school on June 22, participated in a hiring committee for a new principal at my school and started my first class (the accelerated version) of my graduate program. The class ran from June 29-July 10. I submitted my final assignment on time on July 12 and we left for Spain and Portugal on July 13. I'm pooped.

About the class. It was set up in such a way that we all learned a tremendous amount about special education and all sorts of issues and topics regarding that field. There were numerous student presentations, with handouts and email attachments and all sorts of goodies as resources. There were films and speakers. There was not very much lecture. I like a good lecture if the instructor is well-spoken and has actually prepared a spiel that is easy to follow. When well-constructed, I learn a lot this way. When it's disjointed, I tune out and can't learn at all. This instructor was disjointed. That could be why she chose to not lecture much. She was a wonderful person to deal with, though. Except that one time she quietly quipped that I was giving her a headache (I was trying to explain something which was already convoluted and she was not understanding it). I found myself taking her comment with my usual dose of bemusement.

I haven't taken a serious college course in about four years. And that one was very low-tech and not even held in a college classroom but in the building of a non-profit organization. The class I took this summer was held in a college classroom, with computers at each seat. This is a first for me in higher education. Remember I finished my Bachelor's Degree in 1984, a bit behind schedule. I was still typing up papers on a word processing typewriter! I found myself relieved that I knew what I was doing with all the computer-related stuff. Most of the students did, because of our education background. I can only imagine how I would have fared, had I been entering a new field with limited computer skills.

There were emails and attachments coming into my in-box, left and right. Almost all of the presentations (twelve in all, I believe), included email attachments and links and any manner of information. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of attachments in my email. And trying to sort through everything became a chore in and of itself. I got an A in the class, by the way. This was encouraging, though the pace of this program is way intense and I've decided to put the brakes on it and go slower. Instead of taking the other summer class available for August, I've decided to go on another vacation with WP. More on that later.

On Being a Misfit

Being among the older members of the class, there were times when I asked myself "how did I get here" (a David Byrne question).

Speaking of David Byrne. I recently heard that he has Asperger's Syndrome, which is a mild form of autism. That's the topic I did my presentation on for class and based my other project loosely on, with an emphasis on Multiple Intelligences. I'm fascinated with autism and Asperger's. There are three children at my small school who are on the autism spectrum and I enjoy working with one and interacting with the other two who are in other classrooms. I read a book called Look Me in the Eye by a local author John Elder Robison, of Amherst, Massachusetts. He has a blog by the same name, which I've just begun to follow as a result of having read his fantastic book.

My own life with someone with more than a touch of Asperger's is a story for another time. Suffice it to say that he is totally brilliant and successful and I'm one of only about three people in the world who can make him look me in the eye. I love him and accept him and intend to spend the rest of my life with him. It's interesting to bring Asperger's to his attention because he just grins and doesn't say anything. I get it. If that's what he "has", he's accepted himself and hopes that others will also. And if they don't, oh well. I can understand that.

I don't have Asperger's but I have qualities that I identify with in Asperger's people. I'm more of a loner. I don't like being around a lot of people all at once. I don't mind it if the group of people are children. But then, of course, I want to be their teacher, or it's totally unmanageable! :-) Social interactions and "niceties" tire me out but I manage when I have to. Especially if it means a lot to someone. Like it will mean a lot to WP's daughter who is getting married next year, that I socialize at her extraordinarily large wedding. Yikes. :-)

My girls tell me I am just plain anti-social. Double yikes. I don't think I'm all-out anti-social. I prefer to socialize and be around one or a few other people; usually friends and family. I don't feel comfortable with huge, extended networks of people that I have to put a lot of effort into fitting in with. I am by nature solitary and independent. I avoid too many human entanglements because people are just too damned complicated and exhausting. Present company excluded, of course. :-)

Edvard Munch

I think that's why I like to blog. The medium puts me in touch with people who understand the world of my head and even sometimes have something to say about it. Having grown up a working class kid from an immigrant family didn't exactly put me in touch with intellectuals and artists, writers and assorted funky types. And to this day, I still feel intimidated by such people face-to-face. I recently commented on one of Lisa's posts at That's Why (she met The Cracker Queen in person as well as some guy whose radio voice she takes a shower with - it's a hilarious post and you must read it!) that I am so celebrity-shy as to be almost rude. I can't even say to the band at the local roadhouse during a break that I liked their set. I just can't do it. Nevermind go up to an author or actor and start talking. In this way, I am painfully shy.

And I don't mean to knock my upbringing, though moving from one country to the next to the present one didn't exactly make it easy to fit in. But it's within my family that I learned to love and trust and within that immigrant community that I learned what I wanted from it and what I did not. And to my father, I owe a tremendous lot because he shared his intelligence, his talents and his passions with me. He too was different from those around him and though he never said so, I think he understood that we were alike in this way.

Blogging is the inner world of my head. Such as it is. I've not made it the inner world of my heart very much. I feel a kind of love and kindness and compassion and interest toward many people I've encountered through blogging but as far as opening up to an extent that would make me feel vulnerable, I have done very little of that. I guess because my younger self was much more without protection and I was hurt too many times. I don't need to get knocked on my arse by someone I don't know but thought I could trust. It is simply a happier way of being for me online. Besides, everyone has their own problems, so many of which are worse than mine are at this stage in my life when I am pretty decently happy.

Saying Goodbye to SG1

SG2 and I said a teary goodbye to our SG1 at the airport last Thursday. A very emotional drive from Franklin County to Logan Airport, frought with tension and stress and strong feelings. She's called daily since from Santa Barbara, with tidbits about her and Beloved's tiny apartment and their time visiting the beach. SG1 sounds happy and in love with Beloved and the weather there!
She's starting her Americorps stint at the elementary school in a couple of weeks. It will be within a few minutes walking distance from the Santa Barbara University campus. Beloved starts classes around the same time, I believe. Things are falling into place for them and therefore I am a happy Mommy.

William Merit Chase

Summer and Shrimp Salad

I love summer. Whether I'm traveling or at home. I love summer. Even when it's sticky and humid (as it's been since I came back from Europe). I love summer. This week and last we've had WP's eldest M visiting from San Francisco. She and WP just left for the airport, after a yummy shrimp salad lunch I made from M's recipe: one pound of cooked shrimp, one avocado, green and red pepper, red onion, a splash of olive oil and seasoned rice vinegar, freshly ground pepper and salt to taste. With crusty bread and a glass of white wine for me. The girls obstained from the latter, leaving all the extra calories to me. They do watch those figures.

David Hockney

Another Vacation

On Saturday we're off to Nova Scotia again. This time we're staying put at Five Islands and going into the sweet town of Parrsboro for entertainment and dining. We're also looking at a drive to Halifax for the Busker Festival. We attended last summer and it was a blast. This is going to be so, so nice...a relaxing vacation. Yessssssssss.

click to enlarge
Taken on last year's trip to Nova Scotia by me

I will tell you goodbye now because we're leaving on Saturday all I have queued up for you is the Friday Nudes and Music For Sunday. I will post again in a few weeks or if we decide to bring a computer.

All the love,
Pagan Sphinx


  1. Funny you should bring this up because I just heard about Asperger's. And I think I have a touch of it as well.

    As a child I was very uncomfortable around other people. Now I'm much better but there are times I simply can't deal with other people.

  2. Me too! (Aspurgers-wise)
    Glad we found each other!

    Aloha from a beach bumette!

    Comfort Spiral

  3. Nice paintings. It's a joy to see them at the end of the day when I feel so tired!

  4. Sounds like you deserve a vacation, or at least a break from the routine. The Northeast, Nova Scotia, PEI et al, is a place I want to explore someday. Maybe on the motorcycle, (I'd love to take the three day ferry boat ride to Newfoundland and ride up there).
    My spousal unit is like you. She doesn't like crowds either. She doesn't like talking in the phone, going shopping, being friendly, (yet everyone loves her when she does meet them). She has no "girlfriends", wears no makeup and doesn't dress to impress, (yet she has a great job that she had to interview for).

    Anyway, have a great time. Tell us about an eatery or two when you get back.

    By the way, you are instrumental in getting me interested in art.


  5. I certainly understand your "anti-social" thing. I do love people, but thoroughly enjoy observing as much, or more than, participation. I have always preferred one on one interaction. Just not a party girl. Three of my four children really enjoy partying, and they are puzzled by my attitude. I suspect the fourth one has, or borders on Aspergers. Maybe me too?

  6. Remember when I e-mailed you that I loved your blog but didn't comment because I thought you were so much smarter than me? For some reason this made me think of all that, how we get in our own way and have these notions.

    I still think you're one of the smartest people I know, I just don't think I'm that dumb anymore

    I am very moody about gatherings. I don't like forced gattherings - weddings and such - I hate doing crap because I'm supposed to

    I do love talking to strangers. I'll talk to anyone about anything!

  7. Hi, I couldn't find an address for you on here. Please email me at the Pic a Theme email on the blog.

  8. My apologies to Susan of Phantsy That, whose comment I accidently (I think) deleted (or something). eeesh.

    Here is Susan's comment:

    susan has left a new comment on your post "What's Goin' On - Long Post":

    I wanted to let you know I got hit again by the Chinese porn spammers (the other was a year ago). I don't know why they bother since neither I nor anybody who visits understands a character of the language. Anyway, just to let you know it's a random thing and once you're back you may want to return to allowing open comments again.

    This was a great post and I too relate to blogtopia in much the same way. I can manage being among large groups of people but I really prefer not and nowadays mostly arrange to stay in my comfort zone.

    I hope you have a wonderful holiday in NS. We really are thinking of moving there in the next year or so. I've lived in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver but never the Maritimes - although I visited one lovely summer long ago. I'll look forward to more photographs and a good story or two. Be well, both of you.

    ps: I am planning a tiger bag one of these days :-)

  9. To all the bloggy friends that commented on Asperger's:

    I want to do a post on Asperger's. It will include the textbook definitions, some alternative perspectives as well as my own thoughts and ideas regarding the individuals in my life who have it.

    For now, Aperger's is beyond not liking social situations, preferring reclusiveness or being a loner. It's more about not really understanding how to relate to people but sometimes wanting to. In John Robison's case, he felt lonely and isolated and wanted friends. That can be one scenario. My partner, WP, is happy being with his mate (me) and his daughters and dealing with people professionally. He's not social and doesn't want to be. Like any other way of being, people are different. I think the thing that sets Asperger's people apart is that they truly don't understand the language of superficial social expectations. Not being Asperger's, I do understand it and I can do it, I just don't like to.

  10. i came over to visit, about to ask 'how ya doing girl'? but i saw how you are. gasp!

  11. To Return some of the other comments:

    Tapirgirl: I'm glad you enjoyed the images. I tried something new and sort of illustrated my post with images of paintings I've collected.
    Thanks for stopping by.

    Spadoman: You will love it. I don't know how anyone could not. WP has gone many summers Before Me and for us as a couple, it will be our second time. Of many, we hope.
    I'll take pictures of where we eat and let you know how it was! I hope mostly clam shack type places. I hope raw oysters. I hope mussels and salmon. :-)

    Bobbie: I love humanity and I am deeply compassionate. I don't always love individual people out there in the world but I'm learning tolerance. And I would certainly help any brother or sister who needed it, without hesitation.

    Susan: Oh, that will be a wonderful place to retire for you! I'm excited and happy for you. Perhaps one day I will go and see you. It would make my world to see one of your gorgeous tigers up close and personal!

    Dianne: I don't know how someone as bright and creative as you are could ever feel "dumb". Yet I consider myself dumb as a box of rocks when it comes to some things. I mean, I wonder around big parking lots looking for my car! I can get totally lost in a building and "when it comes to mathematics, I got static in the attic" - that's from a favorite Joni Mitchell song. :-)

    Souldbrush. Which part are you gapsing about, Luv? Or is it the whole thing? ;-) Once in a while I crawl out of my shell and have a stab at something that approaches cohesive writing about myself and my life. You just happened to come by for is perhaps the longest post in Pagan Sphinx history!

    Love to everyone. Honestly, I just appreciate so much when you come by for these personal posts. They're not easy for me write. Sometimes I recognize contradictions in what I'm writing and it makes me feel false when I am not at all trying to be. Self-awareness is a tricky thing to write about.

  12. hi, i pretty much understand.
    oh, yes.

    thanks, keep on keep'n on.

  13. mmm.... you sound an awful lot like me :) i call myself anti social but the truth is- i can't be bothered wasting my time on folks i don't want to waste my time with. i prefer the company of my family and already established friends and i find the behaviours of 'polite society'- inane conversations, listening politely, boring, boring, boring listening politely- not something i care to do at this phase of my life.

    it's why i enjoy blogging. i can say whatever i like and whoever wants to listen to it can- and if not- those folks can move on :)

  14. well, you are now off again but have a good time, as I know you will..

    this was a great post and I completely understand what you mean about blogging and people, especially in large doses...I have tested positive for asperger's but don't give any credence to tests...I figure I am who I am and there's no changing that and I am quite happy being me...but I am not a people person either and blogging suits me nicely for that reason...

    anyway, I am glad you are back and have missed you...see you when you return!

    be safe

  15. This was a great glimpse into your head and heart.

    I think most of us in this blogging space are introverts, and introspective. This is an incredible medium for us.

    I hope you have a wonderful vacation, and that all goes well with your next class and with your super girls.

  16. great post! i am also fascinated by asperger's and the autism spectrum. have you read Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammett (i think that's his name)? he is the brilliant savant guy with aspergers. i would be interested in reading follow up posts about this topic! so i gather your lifepartner/husband has aspergers? i was close to someone with aspergers and she would say that her 'obsessions' are a blessing, not a bad thing that people paint it to be!


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